In what appears to be a bottoming out of the job market at the closest to full employment that Flagler and Florida may see in this economic cycle, the unemployment rate in the state remained at 3.4 percent in June, hovering withing a decimal point of that figure either way for a year, while Flagler’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate ticked up 4.1 percent, from 3.6 percent in May. Flagler’s unemployment rate has also hovered in the same range for a year, give or take a few more decimal points.
But unlike more recent months that saw strong growth in Flagler’s labor force, the labor force in June was flat, at 48,376, while the number of unemployed persons rose by 243, and the number of people holding jobs fell by almost the same number (255). The labor force is still at or near record levels, and is stronger by 1,000 than at this point last year. The number of Flagler residents with jobs, which set a record last month (46,648) was at 46,393. It was at 44,000 in January 2018, so employment in the county grew 5.4 percent in just 18 months. The labor force remains smaller than half the total population of the county (112,000 by the Census Bureau’s July 2018 estimate).
The number of people with jobs represents anyone living in Flagler and holding a job, but not necessarily in Flagler. So the employment figure is not necessarily a reflection of economic activity in the county proper, but of the employment status of its residents. The figures also don;t reflect full-time employment, but all employment. A person logging a single hour of work during the period surveyed is considered employed.
The state’s labor department doesn’t release the alternative measure of employment, which take into account those who are under-employed–those employed part-time because they couldn’t find full-time work, or have had their hours cut back, and those who have dropped out of the labor force out of discouragement. The federal government tracks those measures, which would place Florida’s unemployment and under-employment rate at 7.5 percent, one decimal point below the national average. Florida’s alternative rate has improved in the past 12 months enough to fall below the national average. For most of the years since the Great Recession, it had been well above the national average.
There were 349,000 unemployed Floridians in June out of a labor force of 10.3 million. Florida does not count the unemployed who no longer search for work, or comply with restrictive state rules–such as showing proof of looking for work–required to be counted among the unemployed, so the figure is generally an undercount. Nevertheless, the state added 16,100 jobs in June, for a total of 218,000 over the previous 12 months, with education services adding the most jobs over that period (54,700).
Most job sectors saw some job growth, with 2,000 jobs added in mining, logging or construction, 4,400 jobs in professional and technical services, and 5,500 jobs in education and health services. Government jobs added 4,600 people to their payrolls, with the bulk of those in local governments. But like his predecessor, Gov. Ron DeSantis in his various job-announcement releases is focusing only on private-sector job creation.
In June, Monroe had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.4 percent, followed by St. Johns and Okaloosa County (2.9 percent) Walton (3.0) and Orange (3.1). Hendry County, which many years ago relieved Flagler of that unhappy distinction, had the highest unemployment rate (6.6 percent), followed by Hardee
(5.9), Citrus and Sumter (5.2).
The full June report is below.